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How to Become a High School Teacher in Illinois

Read about the requirements necessary to become a secondary teacher in the state of Illinois. Delve into the details about educational requirements, testing, and the certification process.

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The state of Illinois certifies secondary school teachers in many subjects, including English, Spanish, mathematics, and physics. Students interested in becoming secondary school teachers in Illinois can follow the requirements necessary to gain endorsements in all areas of interest.

Illinois Teacher Salary Information and Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in Illinois (2016)* $70,130 (Secondary Teachers), $66,590 (Career and Technical Education Secondary Teachers), $67,070 (Special Education Secondary Teachers)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Education, content area of interest
Testing Requirements Test of Basic Skills, edTPA, ILTS Subject Exams

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Graduate with a Bachelor's Degree

In order to become a secondary school teacher in Illinois, one must graduate from an approved, accredited teacher preparation program with a degree in education and the content area he or she hopes to teach. For instance, if a prospective teacher wants to teach Spanish, he or she should pursue a Spanish education degree. There are many programs available for future teachers, and an up-to-date list can be found on the Illinois Department of Education website. Teachers in Illinois are required to have at least 32 hours of instruction in their content area or major. They must also have training in the following four course categories: cross-categorical special education methods, reading methods, reading in the content area, and English as a second language/bilingual methods. Other components of the degree program will vary, but some common classes could include:

  • Human Development
  • Effective Planning and Instruction for Teaching
  • Assessment and Technology in the Classroom
  • Educational Policy for Diverse Students

All students will complete a student teaching requirement prior to graduation. This experience is required by the state and ensures that students are ready to enter the classroom with confidence and experience.

Step 2: Take All Required Tests

In the state of Illinois, teachers are required to complete a test of basic skills. The state offers the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP), but if prospective teachers have high scores on the ACT or SAT, they can submit those instead. A score of at least 22 is needed for the ACT with a combined English/writing score of 6, and a 1110 on the SAT with at least a writing and language score of 26 is required. If teachers choose to take the TAP through the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS), they will have 5 hours to answer 60 reading comprehension multiple-choice questions, 60 language arts multiple-choice questions, 50 mathematics multiple-choice questions, and 1 constructed-response writing question. The test costs $113, and they will need to score at least 240 on each subtest.

Future teachers will also need to have completed the edTPA, which should have occurred during the student teaching experience in the educator program. This requires student teachers to build portfolios exemplifying their teaching styles, and it analyzes planning, instruction, and assessment skills.

Finally, teachers will need to take all applicable ILTS subject tests for the area they wish to teach. Teachers hoping to teach English will take the English Language Arts exam, while those hoping to teach math will take the Mathematics ILTS exam. Each test will vary in length, but there is a comprehensive list of options available on the ILTS site, complete with registration information.

Step 3: Complete the Certification Application

After all grades are finalized and all testing has been completed, teachers can begin the application process. Universities need to mail in transcripts (showing 32 hours in content major, proof of student teaching, and proof of completion of the four course categories) to the state Board of Education. Then teachers can open an account on the online portal system to submit proof of testing, complete the 80-02 form, and pay registration fees. Finally, teachers will submit a background check, and then they will be eligible to receive their Professional Educator License.

Resources for Future Illinois Teachers

Anyone hoping to become a secondary school teacher in Illinois will have to pass the appropriate ILTS exams. Check out the study guides and practice questions below and start preparing now.

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